What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean mimics the eating pattern of Mediterranean countries, such as Southern Italy, Greece and Spain. Proponents say that following the Mediterranean diet will help you lose weight, as well as keep your brain and heart healthy, and prevent cancer and diabetes. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean population tend to have less chronic diseases and live longer.

In this diet, you are eating mostly plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Most foods are cooked or dressed with olive oil instead of butter. Herbs and spices are used for flavor instead of salt. Red meat is only eaten sparingly, while seafood and poultry are the main protein source for this diet. Ready for the bonus? You’re allowed to drink red wine (in moderation)!

Not only does the Mediterranean diet focus on what food you eat, but also on how you eat. You are encouraged to eat your meals with family and friends. There is also an emphasis on incorporating exercise to your weekly schedule.

Mediterranean Diet Food List

  • Plant-Based: asparagus, beets, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, okra, squashes, spinach, avocado, chickpeas, olives, artichokes, eggplant, celery, broccoli, onions, peas, peppers, sweet potatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, apples, cherries, dates, peaches, grapefruit, melons, strawberries, pomegranate, grapes, walnuts and pecans.
  • Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese (low- or fat-free, not full-fat).
  • Grains: whole wheat, oats, couscous, rice, barley, bulgur, whole grain tortilla, whole grain breakfast cereal.
  • Fats: olive oil and vinaigrette dressings.
  • Proteins: lamb, pork, veal, ham, chicken, turkey, eggs, shrimp, albacore, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, halibut, sea bass and swordfish.
  • Beverages: water and one glass of red wine per day (say no to sodas and fruit juices).

Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Pasta Salad

  1. Cook 8 ounces of whole grain farfalle according to directions on the package.
  2. Zest, then juice one lemon and whisk with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
  3. Add one 13.5 ounce can of artichoke hearts in water (drained and chopped), 8 ounces of skim mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley.
  4. Toss well. Put one 1/2 cup of frozen peas in a strainer. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the hot pasta over the peas. Add the pea pasta to the rest of the ingredients.

Tuna Salad

Combine two 6 ounce cans of tuna (drained and flaked), 1/4 cup of mayonnaise dressing with olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped pitted olives, 1/4 cup roasted red peppers (drained and chopped), 2 sliced green onions and 1 tablespoon capers (drained and rinsed).

Chickpea Patties

  1. Put one 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, 1 chopped garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, salt and pepper in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until coarsely chopped and well-mixed.
  3. Put the chickpea blend into a bowl and add 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of flour.
  4. Separate the mixture evenly into eight, then form into patties of 1/2 inch thickness.
  5. Add olive oil into a pan at a medium to high temperature, and cook the patties for up to 3 minutes on each side. They should be golden in color.

Salmon

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt and black pepper on both sides of four 6-ounce salmon fillets.
  3. Spray a 11- x 7-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray and place the salmon in it, single layer.
  4. In a bowl, combine 2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup of finely chopped zucchini, 2 tablespoons of capers (undrained), 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one 2 1/4-ounce can of sliced olives (drained).
  5. Pour the mixture in the bowl over the salmon, then back for 22 minutes.

Herbed Lamb

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Arrange 2 bell peppers (sliced), 1 large sweet potato (peeled and roughly cubed), 2 courgettes (roughly cubed) in a large baking pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Season with a lot of ground black pepper. Bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Trim the fat off of 8 lamb cutlets. Mix 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme leaf, 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves and a pinch of black pepper. Pat the herb mixture on the lamb.
  5. Remove the vegetables from the oven, turn them over and push them to one side of the baking pan.
  6. Arrange the lamb cutlets on the empty side of the baking pan and return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Flip the lamb cutlets and bake for the last 10 minutes (or until tender and lightly charred).
  8. Mix the lamb and vegetables together before serving.

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